Painted Orange

love shines on

My Friend Was Murdered.

 

Yesterday, I learned that my friend was murdered.

I don’t mean to say it so matter of factly. It is just that the most horrible thing that could have happened to her did, and I don’t really know what to do about it.

My day was a confusion of shock and normalcy. After I learned the news, my old teammate and I prayed together and then I went back to work. I would find myself laughing at something when an image of her would flash through my head and I would feel guilty that I had gone on with my life.

I’ve spent my day going back and forth about what I should write and how I should write it, knowing that her story needs to be told. Because she matters and so do the countless other women like her.

So I guess I will just tell you what I know.

Her name was Mon and she was my friend.

She was shorter than me but she always wore these platform flip-flops that made us appear around the same height. She schooled me at shooting pool regularly and would buy me a Coke when we would visit the bars in the hot, muggy afternoons. On the nights when we visited her, I would buy watermelon and pineapple from the local vendor. We would share it while dancing to Katy Perry songs.

Sometimes when we came she was with a man, their faces always changed. Some seemed polite enough and just looking for companionship. Others were not, grabbing her and speaking to her in a degrading manner. Whenever she was with a man we would just hang back and wave, praying that she would be safe that night.

She didn’t speak much English, so she would just smile a lot. And oh, how her smile lit up a room.

Whenever I didn’t know what else to say I would gently run my fingers through her hair, telling her how much I loved it and how beautiful she was. I think, given her line of work, she was told that a lot. And because of the way it was said, and who normally said it, the meaning of the words were perverted.  But I believe when I said it, it was different and she could tell. And she would give me one of those smiles.

She was the close friend of one the girls that we spent almost every day with, who also worked in the bars. And she would always go around town with us and to church sometimes too. We would go to Butter is Better to get pancakes and then go shopping and have some banana roti.

There was a sweetness about her, but it was more than the way she moved about a room or how smiled at you. It was like the essence of her being, sweetness, kindness, gentleness all packaged into a tiny little frame.

It was hard knowing her line of work, because I knew how she was treated and what it did to one’s soul. She had the same story so many other young girls in southeast Asia. Poverty had forced her into the bar scene and poverty is what kept her there.

A lot of the women enter the bars because there is nothing else for them, they believe they will meet some wealthy foreigner and, as in Pretty Woman, fall in love and forever be taken care of. The reality is that it never happens like that, women who work in the sex trade constantly face violence. They aren’t seen as humans, but rather objects to be consumed. It leaves them empty.

Once in a blue moon a bar girl does marry a client, and she thinks all of her dreams are coming true. Finally, someone to care for her and protect her. But instead of the wedded bliss, she often faces a lifetime of bondage, a slave to his every whim.

But it doesn’t stop the women from holding onto hope, that maybe this next client, maybe he will be the one to save her from her living hell.

 

I wonder if that was what Mon was thinking that night as she went to the hotel room with him. The thought is too terrible to bear.

The next morning she was found, dead from internal injuries due to rape and the sodomy that left a glass water bottle in her abdomen. There are more details I could share, but I feel they are too dark.

The fact that she was murdered is gut-wrenching, but how it happened was even worse.

There is a darkness that seems to engulf the whole situation. Leaving in its wake broken hearts and terrible fear, but there is something else there, too.

Hope. I have to believe that light, that something good, can come from this. I have to believe that God can still make good come from such a horrible situation. And he can.

But the only way we are going to bring light to this story is if we remember her. She had a name, dreams, friends and family who loved her. She matters, her story matters and if we remember her, maybe we can do something about the hundreds of thousands of girls like her in the sex trade.

I know stories like hers happen all the time, violence comes with the job description. Most stories go untold, fading into the background of thousands of deaths that resemble hers. It is only because she was my friend that you are hearing about it now.

Her story does not have to end in darkness, through her death we can be moved to action. We can do everything in our power to make sure that another story like hers doesn’t happen.

So I am speaking out. I am telling her story to let the world know she is not forgotten. It is because of her and many like her that I will keep shouting at the top of my lungs that the sex trade MUST end. The objectification of women MUST end. The violence against women MUST end.

There are ways that you, yes you, can get tangibly involved to see an end to stories like this:

  1. Pray- Pray as you have never prayed before God brings redemption to the stories of objectification, abuse, and manipulation. That people will be fulfilled by God and stop searching for fulfillment in lust. That women like her have the courage to leave and have a place to go to escape the trade. That the demand for the sex trade just stops.
  2. Send notes- It is the call on my life to see women step into their full potential in Christ. As part of that I get the opportunity to disciple women who have left the sex trade in Thailand and the Philippines. I am going back in May to bring encouragement and love to these women, please send them your prayers and your love in a handwritten card so they may know they are not alone. Email me if you are interested.
  3. Donate- And if you feel lead you may also donate to Wipe Every Tear, an organization that takes women out of the sex trade and puts them through college. They have a safe house in the same city this woman was murdered. Please do something.

Whatever you do, don’t let this woman’s story go unheard.

She is not just another statistic. She was a person. She was loved and cared about and she was brutally murdered.

Share this article. Get involved with organizations that fight this injustice. Together, we can end this kind of violence against people.

 

 

About Meghan Tschanz

I believe in love, empowerment. and adventure. The kind of love that believes in the face of adversity, the empowerment that allows people to step into their destiny, and the kind of adventure that leaves your heart pounding in your chest. I write because I want to remind us all that there is so much more to life.

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18 Replies

  1. Kirsten Hughes

    Thank you for being brave and sharing Mon’s story. Far too often, distance separates us from the reality of these horrific acts. You’ve eliminated that excuse and made the truth unavoidable. Keep fighting the good fight, what you do makes a difference.

    1. Thank Kirsten. That means a lot.

  2. seth_barnes

    This is so very sad. Yet would be sadder would be for Mon’s life to not be celebrated as you have celebrated it here, Meghan. In this pitched battle to set girls like Mon free, we can lose track of how high the stakes are.

    My prayer is that, just as we remember Baby Moses in Swaziland, and we continue to fight for the orphans like him, so we would remember Mon. I personally am going to ask God for a thousand girls like Mon. My prayer is, “Lord, make her life count in the lives of others. May her story inspire a movement. Lord, show us how to redeem this tragedy in the light of eternity.”

    1. Thanks Seth. My prayer is similar.

  3. Luke Geldmacher

    Thank you for sharing her story with us and being such a strong voice in the world. You are making a difference in the world and never give up the fight.

  4. Katie Swan

    There aren’t words. Love you and praying.

    1. Dexter

      There are plenty of words. This is one of those issues that should be talked about and prevented. This isn’t a simple illness related death or suicide. This was a sex trade related murder. Ever since some celebrity’s death a few years ago people adopted “there are no words” as their default “death sympathy” phrase. It’s not the perfect response as people think it is, it’s an excuse not to come up with anything sympathetic or thoughtful.

    2. I felt speechless too Katie. Thank you.

  5. I’m so sad to learn of the loss of this beautiful woman! I work with survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking; it’s very courageous of you to speak out and educate so soon after learning of the loss of your friend.

    1. Thanks Julie. Thanks for being part of the solution.

  6. Story teller

    I’m so sorry this happened to your friend, and to many other women. The victimization of women and girls really needs to stop. Thank you for having the strength to tell Mon’s story.

    1. Thanks for your condolences.

  7. Thank you for sharing this. It is hard to imagine that this goes on, but if we ignore it, things will never change.

    1. It is important that we share, thanks Robin!

  8. I am so very sorry about your friend and the pain that has rippled out from what has happened to her 🙁

    1. Thanks Lizelle, I know God is using it for good.

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